(New Album Review) Saåad- Verdaillon

On their new outing for Parisian imprint In Pardisium, Verdaillon, Toulouse drone duo Saåad (Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier) employ their electro-acoustic setup towards beautifully tenebrous, arcane atmospheres. The aulos (an ancient reed instrument…) on “Egregore” sound the call and begin the rite: we have begun to tumble backwards through the darkened hollows where history and prehistory become muddled. Obscured peripheral creaks and splashes sound out the spaces surrounding rolling drones from pipe organ and heavily processed electric guitar; the genesis of the album was an invitation from Toulouse les Orgues to perform on the organ at the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade. Slow, thundering dirges; murmured vocals dissolving in the gloom, tolling bells…these mind-manifesting sonic details all seem to relate back in one way or another to that mighty organ above all other voices. And for the closer “Vorde”, the duo give that beast the space to sing only adorned by distant echoes, rather than harmonizing with another prominent voice– a bellow both evoking a specific time and place and issuing from an abyss lost to time.

At turns the album evokes Gothic ceilings and spires– at others, mystic Pantheistic visions. The album seemingly progresses from the animistic to the seraphic without us noticing. Perhaps it is because at all times it reminds us that they both come out of the human spirit, and so they have that duality in a way. Reverent visions from Christianity often intersect with that ancient world. In Verdaillon, Saåad have crafted a record of beautifully enveloping drones that ultimately belong to eternity.

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